Wednesday, June 16, 2010

kimchi update! (bacterial cultures)

I misinformed you in the last post when I said that brine of a certain strength inhibits the growth of all bacteria except for our old friend, Lacto B.  That is not entirely true.  Brine of a certain strength does inhibit bacterial growth, probably even prohibits certain bacteria, but here's where I misinformed you: when you start kimchi and other fermented pickles, several different bacteria are present during the early phases of fermentation, not just Lacto B.  It is only after Lacto B. becomes quite sturdy and successful, dashing, debonair and flush with cash, that the other bacteria die off.  Basically, Lacto B has a jolly old time in the brine and reproduces itself tremendously, doing all the necessary bits along the way: eating and, well, there's no polite way to put it, crapping all over the joint, where "joint" means "pickle crock," and "crap" means "produces lactic acid."  Thus, it is the profusion of lactic acid produced by Lacto B that makes the other flora go lights out.  So long, kiddies.

This is what the kimchi looks like after it has soaked 12 hours in the brine, been dredged and mixed with the other ingredients: ginger, garlic, scallions, chili flakes, carrot, snow peas (my addition), and a touch more salt.  Currently, this batch of k-chi is submerged in a crock of brine and weighted down with a heavy plate.  One week and several skimmings later, I will have an edible, live food.  Not two gallons like I originally thought, but enough to last a while.     

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